Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* McBride's (Kill 'em and Leave, 2016) short stories joyfully abound with indelible characters whose personal philosophies are far wiser than their circumstances allow, including the teenage members of the inner-city Five Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band Buck Boy, Ray-Ray, Blub, and Goat. Then there's the lion, jaguar, and whale in Mr. P & the Wind. A fierce loyalty forged on an Italian battlefield during WWII unites Carlos, Lillian, and the Judge in a Harlem ballroom in The Christmas Dance, while a black Civil War orphan, Abraham Henry Lincoln, believes he will finally meet his father when President Lincoln visits the troops in Richmond. A priceless toy train once belonging to Robert E. Lee brings a vintage toy dealer much wealth but little joy in The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set. Whatever the situation, McBride's protagonists encounter life's foolishness and futility courtesy of their outlier status, yet their compassion and wisdom put them at the heart of the most salient and critical junctures confronting humanity. McBride brings the snappy satire that endeared him to fans of the National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird (2013) and the courage and pathos that shone in The Miracle at St. Anna (2002) to this stellar collection of short fiction.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Humming with invention and energy, the stories collected in McBride's first fiction book since his National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird again affirm his storytelling gifts. In the opening story, "The Under Graham Railroad Box Car Set," vintage toy dealer Leo Banskoff gets a lead on a priceless collectible: the long-lost train set made for Robert E. Lee's son Graham by one of Smith & Wesson's founders. In one of several surprises that upend his assumptions about value, Banskoff prepares for fierce negotiation but finds that the train's impoverished, devoutly evangelical owner wants to give it away. In "The Fish Man Angel," a weary President Lincoln makes a late-night visit to his dead son Willie's horse, weeping alone before overhearing words that change history. In "The Christmas Dance," a Ph.D. candidate begs two of the only surviving members of the African-American Ninety-Second Infantry Division to describe its role in a senselessly bloody World War II encounter; though their reluctance jeopardizes his thesis, ultimately the men-unlike the government they served-honor even unspoken promises. One of two groups of linked stories reimagines the animal world, while the other visits a gritty neighborhood of Uniontown, Penn., during the Vietnam War as teenagers grapple with limitation and longing. McBride adopts a variety of dictions without losing his own distinctively supple, musical voice; as identities shift, "truths" are challenged, and justice is done or, more often, subverted. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Review by Library Journal Review
National Book Award winner McBride (The Good Lord Bird) here offers an exceptional group of stories. It begins with an antique toy dealer who happens upon a one-of-a-kind train set-with military implications-that once belonged to Robert E. Lee and ends with a mini-novella narrated by a lion at a zoo who is trying to understand the complexity of society and his place in it. Most pieces involve the concept of freedom, none more explicitly than "Father Abe" about a mixed-race orphan who approaches the Union Army in search of a father he believes (mistakenly) to be Lincoln, only to find one named, yes, Abe who marvels at the child's definition of freedom. There's also another Civil War story and one from World War II. Arguably the best involves a boastful heavyweight who finds himself in a match with the Devil's equivalent of St. Peter for his soul and the souls of four others sitting on the "Moaning Bench." There's a good amount of humor here, but most of these pieces are deeply emotional. This is McBride at his A-list best. Verdict Realism with a touch of magical realism for readers who enjoy page-turners that don't happen to be thrillers.-Robert E. Brown, Oswego, NY © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.